French Diesel-Electric Motorboat Makes (Quiet) Waves

Rhea Marine Diesel-Electric BoatNot all green vehicles have wheels – the French company Rhea Marine recently introduced a diesel-electric hybrid boat. The Rhea 850 Electrica is compact, efficient, and pretty easy on the environment as well as the eyes.

The Rhea 850 Electrica isn’t quite a standard hybrid – the diesel engine powers a generator rather than the boat itself. The generator then charges the batteries which power the motors (this is beginning to sound like a nursery rhyme…). With enough patience, it should be possible to replace the diesel engine and generator with an even greener source of power, but the 850 Electrica is pretty fuel-efficient as it is.

The Stats

The electric motors run off of two 38.5kWh lithium ion battery packs (one per motor, of course). Neither of the battery packs can be removed or plugged into a standard outlet for charging, but the diesel engine can charge the batteries within half an hour while the boat is running. Each motor has a peak output of 145kW and a continuous output of just over 100kW.

At 99 lbs. per motor, the electric motors and batteries don’t add too much to the weight of the boat, and not being directly powered by a combustion engine doesn’t make it unbearably slow. According to Rhea Marine, the 850 Electra has a top speed of 29mph.

Fuel efficiency depends on the speed of the boat – the slower you go, the less fuel you burn. The manufacturer claims that at a speed of 7mph, the 850 Electra gets 17.4 mpg. At 9mph, fuel efficiency drops sharply to 4.4 mpg, and at 17mph it goes down to 2.9 mpg (not bad for a boat).

Would you buy an electric boat? Let us know in the comments, below.

Source: Technologic Vehicles | Image: Rhea Marine.


Charis Michelsen

spent 7 years living in Germany and Japan, studying both languages extensively, doing translation and education with companies like Bosch, Nissan, Fuji Heavy, and others. Charis has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and currently lives in Chicago, Illinois. She also believes that Janeway was the best Star Trek Captain.